Tonight’s Carling Cup fourth round ties are all-Premier League affairs with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all facing difficult away trips.
Will we see any upsets when the above take on Everton, Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively? Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers host Newcastle United at Ewood Park, eager for a cup tonic and a platform to improve upon their poor league form, writes William Geldart.
Pardew’s buoyant Magpies aim to inflict another defeat on Rovers
Blackburn prepare for the visit of Newcastle this evening with the supporter’s ire towards manager Steve Kean and owners Venky’s threatening to boil over. Suffice to say, after a record of just six wins from 30 games in charge, rumours that those in power are planning to offer Kean a new contract have not gone down well.
The Wild Blackburn Rover blog has posed the question: “How long before the Rovers fans turn away from Steve Kean momentarily and take aim with their (proverbial) cannons at the people running the whole show… Venky’s?”
Rovers are likely to be without Michel Salgado again while David Dunn and Ryan Nelsen are definitely ruled out.
Magpies striker Shola Ameobi’s woes continue, with news that he is will be out for around six weeks because of a hamstring injury.
Cheik Tiote and Steven Taylor are also likely to be sidelined, with a knee injury and broken nose respectively.
Blackburn, 2002 League Cup winners, have an impressive recent record in the competition. Last season was the first time in four years that they had failed to reach at least the quarter-finals.
The Magpies have won their last four matches in the League Cup, however. Alan Pardew’s men have equalled a club record 12 game unbeaten run in the Premier League and they will be confident of piling more misery on beleaguered Rovers.
Chelsea youngsters aim to lay down a marker and restore pride
Defeat to west London rivals Queens Park Rangers at the weekend has certainly dented the pride of Chelsea. The subsequent furore surrounding allegations against captain John Terry and a possible racial slur aimed towards Hoops defender Anton Ferdinand has done little to focus the side on tonight’s Carling Cup game.
The Blues could do with some positive publicity and their fringe players will be given the chance to lift the mood at the club. Manager Andre Villas-Boas is expected to play youngsters Oriol Romeu, Ryan Bertrand, Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku against Everton tonight. Fernando Torres could also make an appearance after serving a three-match domestic ban.
Everton could recall Seamus Coleman and Tim Cahill and Louis Saha could start after scoring against Fulham at the weekend.
The Toffees are unbeaten against Chelsea at Goodison Park since 2008, however, they have only reached the quarter-finals once in the last 23 years.
Meanwhile, four-times League Cup winners Chelsea have failed to reach the quarter-finals in only three of the last 10 seasons.
Despite a recent 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League, Saha is upbeat about Everton’s prospects against the Blues in their Carling Cup match-up.
He told the club’s official website: “It will be different because we are at home, that is a big boost to have the fans backing you.
“It’s the Carling Cup as well so maybe we will be facing a different Chelsea side. We have a great chance to upset Chelsea.”
Stoke searching for goals against record winners Liverpool
Stoke have failed to score in six of their last nine games against seven-time winners Liverpool. Former Reds striker Peter Crouch will be relishing the opportunity to perform against one of his previous employers. Everton fan Jon Walters could also be waiting to pounce once again after his penalty secured a 1-0 win for the Potters against Liverpool in September.
Jonathan Woodgate and Danny Higginbotham could return for the home side while Jermaine Pennant is doubtful to play against his former club.
Lucas is available again for the visitors after a suspension and defender Daniel Agger may start after coming on as a substitute against Norwich City on Saturday.
Stoke have only lost one of their last seven home League Cup ties but this will be their third match in six days owing to their domestic and Europa League commitments. Kenny Dalglish’s men have failed to score in only one of their last 40 League Cup games and their fresher squad could stretch the home side to the limit.
McCarthy and Wolves search for morale boosting win to get fans back onside
Mick McCarthy has branded fans that booed and jeered his substitutions in Wolves’ 2-2 draw with Swansea City on Saturday ‘mindless idiots’.
A win against high-flying Manchester City would help build bridges with an increasingly irate section of the home support but everyone at Molineux will be under no illusions that securing victory tonight will be incredibly difficult.
Such is the strength in-depth of Roberto Mancini’s squad, he is likely to name the likes of Kolo Toure, Costel Pantilimon, Nigel De Jong and Adam Johnson in his starting line-up. Owen Hargreaves misses out because of a calf strain.
Wolves could be without striker Steven Fletcher again as he nurses a calf injury of his own, while Ronald Zubar is lacking match fitness.
The home side have not made the League Cup quarter-finals since the 1995-1996 season but they have won two of their last three home games against Manchester City.
A win for Wolves this evening would be a massive boost, especially given that they travel to Manchester to play City this weekend in the Premier League.
Will the home faithful continue to back their side if City are in the same rampant mood that has taken them five points clear at the top of the league?
Wolvesblog.com has these words for the manager and players: “The fans, as is their right, will continue to probe and debate, but I don’t see what good the players and particularly the manager speaking out can do.
Just get on with it.”
What do you think will happen in tonight’s Carling Cup fourth-round ties? Will Chelsea come unstuck against the Toffees? Stoke might be knackered but the fans at the Britannia Stadium could spur them on to victory against inconsistent Liverpool. Please leave a comment below!Tweet
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